Mixologist of the Month - Nicci Stringfellow
- Date of Birth: 13th May 1985
- Birth place: UK
- Height: 5'6"
- Eye colour: Brown
- Nationality: British(ish)
"My bartending career has taken me around the world, and what started out as a stop gap has become a passion and a long term choice.
Now, working as a brand ambassador for Casa Herradura tequilas I get to meet so many great people every day, and love sharing passion and knowledge about our wonderful industry."
Nicci's Signature Cocktails
Awards, Accolades and Trophies
I was studying the entire time I was bartending and didn't have time to enter competitions unfortunately. I would always look on with envy as my colleagues were winning trips here, there and everywhere, whilst I scribbled away furiously on my essays.
Claim to Fame
Being the first Stringfellow to work behind the stick at Stringfellows?
Q & A
What do you as a mixologist think about beer? Any brews of note for you?
Beer and a sipping tequila tend to be my go to when not working, and I think it makes a great cocktail ingredient as well. I like the soft citrusy white beers, and then also the more caramel like lagers- Leffe and Brooklyn, Blue Moon and Sam Adams.
If you could offer a couple of short pieces of advice to the average bartender, what would they be?
Read. About everything! It's important to know your products and your techniques, your history and your modern classics. BUT, also know when and to whom to pass on that information. Belligerently over a bar to someone who has ordered a woo woo is never the one.
Surely you have some pet peeves about bartenders -- care to share?
The above! Bartenders who assume they know more than their guests, and who patronise or bully someone into ordering something the bartender deems appropriate, or make the order begrudgingly.
As a mixologist/consultant, you work directly with many restaurants on their drink menus -- describe the parts of this process.
Now that I don't get to spend much time behind the bar this is a great way of still being involved with the drinks process. Fulfilling a creative brief whilst making sure there is balance across all variables- spirit, flavour, long, up, rocks etc as well as adhering to all the requirements from brands and fulfilling the client's expectations is a challenging and interesting task. And very satisfying when it comes together!
How did you get started?
I had moved back to Lisbon after a few years in Brighton and got a job in the Hard Rock Cafe. I was the first girl behind the bar and so there was a lot of pressure to do well. I'm pleased to say that by the time I left more than half the team were female.
How were you trained in bartending?
Hard Rock Cafe may not have the most sophisticated drinks programme but the actual bartender training is fantastic. Handling an 800 capacity venue between 4 bartenders with no barbacks was no easy task! I learnt to be efficient with my time and movement and that stood me in good stead for all the bars to come. Cocktails came later, when I moved to London.
Did you take any courses?
No, I was lucky to have great mentors and training programmes in the bars that I worked in. On the job is the best way to learn, and I'm a little skeptical of courses if I'm honest. They can never teach the pace, passion and hard work required on a Friday night when the bar is heaving!
What are some trends you're seeing in the market?
Bottled cocktails and RTS seem to be gaining momentum in both the bars and in retail. There is a return to simplicity and service that I'm very happy to see. It's important to make cocktail culture as accessible as possible.
What's your process for creating a new cocktail? And what inspired you in the first place?
Normally when I'm creating a cocktail I turn to food combinations, both sweet and savoury to get ideas for flavour combinations. I then design the concept and develop the two from there. I think good food has always been my inspiration- it's an interesting challenge trying to create a similar flavour and texture profile with liquid.
What is your favourite cocktail To make!?
Anything with egg white. It's really satisfying when you get a perfect head!
What are some of your favourite tools?
What is your favourite mixology resource?
Diffords guide online for cocktails and product reviews and the French Culinary Institute blog 'cooking issues' for scientific answers to a lot of bartending theories.
What does success mean for you?
Currently success is convincing people on a daily basis to open their minds about 100% agave tequila! But in the long term I suppose success is balance in all aspects of life.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
That's a difficult question! I never plan that far in advance, life always throws too many interesting curveballs..
If you weren't in the drinks industry, what do you think you would be doing now?
I'd be a UN translator, or making my way there.
Your biggest career influencer?
Everyone I've ever worked with. I don't mean to sound twee, but in all honesty, I've learnt just as much about what I shouldn't do from colleagues, as about what I should, and each experience has influenced the next step.
First drink you ever tried?
Red wine and coke stolen from the drinks counter at a party my parents were having.
We've all had a bad experience with at least one drink. What drink do you most avoid?
I had the same experience as most people with tequila.. I drank too much when I was younger, was ill and ashamed and didn't touch it again for a good wee while! However, I was introduced to 100% tequila when I got to London, and I haven't looked back! I don't avoid any drinks in particular, I maybe just change the way I drink them. Apart from sambuca, actually. Reallllly can't stomach that.
Your hangover cure?
£10m comes to you. What do you do next?
Get on a plane!!
Bar or cellar at home?
Currently designing our breakfast/cocktail bar at home. I'd love to have a cellar one day!
Anything full bodied and oaky.
100% agave tequila.
Tommys Margarita with Herradura Plata.
Too many to name!
Winnie the Pooh.
Erykah Badu, penitentiary philosophy.